Transitioning From Web Developer to Comic Book Author:

Remote Avatar

I’m meeting with a guy from Google. He enters the board room and starts to talk to me about the long flight he just took from San Francisco. There’s something strange in his voice and I don’t quite believe that he just got off a plane.
He quizzes me with a few programming challenges but they are all elementary and I suspect he’s toying with me.
“Well, give me the answers to your questions in a week and I’ll start the evaluation. Then you can take part in whatever project you want or start making whatever project you can imagine.” He says.
“I’ve got some great ideas for Google Calendar,” I exclaim. I’m an eager little puppy. “It should be able to log your life, like sleep and work hours and generate a report for you of what you spend your time doing.” I give him an eyebrow raise, hoping he’ll agree vehemently that I should start modifying the calendar code right now. Instead, he begins to cough.
And cough. And he stands, walking toward the door, coughing more violently.
“I need to call in an engineer!” He says, hurriedly. “I’m sorry for this.”
He heads out the door and around the corner. I follow him and point him the way to the Men’s room. As he rounds the circuitous pathway of the building in search of respite, he continues his expulsion of airy fluids. Even through the walls and back in the conference room, I can hear him. It sounds viscous and hoarse, as if he’s on the verge of exploding his insides out onto the floor. I worry that I didn’t respond quickly enough to his needs. Perhaps he would hold that against me. Perhaps he would not be OK.
Minutes later, he returns with an engineer from Adobe Labs. The engineer is talking to him in a language I don’t understand and looks up at me with disapproving eyes.
“You can stay, but this is confidential.”
“Um, ok, sure…” I’m not really sure to what ‘this’ is alluding.
“Ok, let’s take of the helm…” The engineer says, pulling at the Google man’s chest.
The chest comes off, clean and with a few delicate clicks.
“A robot! AI? But then… He passed the Turing test! I didn’t have a clue!” I’m in shock and I’m mumbling and stuttering.
The Adobe engineer holds up his hands to me. “Don’t freak out, he’s a robot but it’s not AI.”
“I’m actually still in San Fransisco.” Smiles the Google man. “This is a prototype, I thought I give a try. It’s called a Mobile Avatar. I have three of them in different cities around the world. Makes arriving to meetings a bit more bearable–saves fuel, and I get to stay at home :)” He actually draws a smiley face in the air, two dots followed by a swoosh. It’s not the first time I’ve seen a gesticon. It’s the new trend with kids these days. Evidently, Google man wants to be hip.
I marvel at the smoothness of movement and the realism of the robot.
The engineer tinkers with the inside of the Avatar’s chest as he explains, “We realized it wasn’t worth making the AI to go along with our bots, but we could market them as vessels for people to be halfway around the world without actually going anywhere. Our clients, stay at home, step into a suit that picks up on every movement and transfers those signals to this machine.”

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